By +SocialGood Connector Clarisse Joy Mañabat
The Amazon rainforest is considered the lungs of the world — it produces 20% oxygen and a home for the 400 tribes. It covers 2,100,000 square miles and is spread across nine countries-Brazil (64%), Peru (10%), Colombia (6%), Bolivia (6%), Venezuela (6%), Guyana (3%), Suriname (2%), Ecuador (2%), and French Guiana (1%).
The Amazon Guardians and the threats facing them
Activists throughout the Amazon and around the world are working to keep the Amazon safe and healthy. However, their work faces many threats. Every minute, a size of a soccer field is burned in the Amazon. One reporter received a death threat after he wrote an article about Amazon. In 2018, there were 30 environmental activists murdered in Brazil.
Although there are internationally recognized rights for indigenous people, the Amazon tribes are still battling with those who want to get their land. One of the tribe — the Waorani of Pastaza, Ecuador — won a case against oil drilling last July, saving half a million acres of their territory in the Amazon rainforest. According to Nemonte Nenquimo, President of the Coordinating Council of the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador-Pastaza (CONCONAWEP), the victory is for their ancestors and for their future generations.
The Story Behind the Amazon Fires
Last August, the world saw the Amazon rainforest on fire. Human made policies and actions, like the illegal forest clearing for crops or grazing, caused the fire. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro acted only two months after the fire began — deploying 44,000 troops and 5,000 soldiers from Bolivia to fight the forest fires. By then, 7,747 sq km of Brazilian Amazon rainforest had already been cleared.
Beyond the Amazon
Cerrado Savanna, one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet, us also experiencing a crisis. The occurrence of fires has also shot up there — increasing by 78% between August and September.
In Bolivia, fires destroyed more than four million hectares since May and this triggered mass protests after a decree allowing clearing up to four times of farms for agriculture passed.
But the Amazon is not the only one burning, According to Gab Mejia of National Geographic Channel, 28 hectares of peat swamp forest were scorched last April and 62-hectares were burned last August in Mindanao, Philippines.
In Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia, schools and airport are closed due to the toxic haze. Reports showed that there has been an increase of respiratory illnesses.
Malaysia shuts down 400 schools in the eastern state of Sarawak due to the 3,600 detected fires on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo which caused very poor quality of air. The government also sent half a million face masks to the affected citizens.
So what now?
One small action can make a difference to our world’s ecosystems. While our modern heroes, tribes, and firefighters are doing their best to save the Amazon, let us help them save the Amazon even in our own home. Below are the simple ways to help the environment:
1. Mind your wood and paper consumption.
Since elementary days, we were taught of the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. The back of our old papers can be used for writing down notes or printing documents. Old newspapers and magazines can be used also for craft making and as gift wrapping. Be creative, yes, even in doing the 3Rs.
2. Be a Vegan or eat less meat.
Meat-eating is an environmental hazard. To produce a pound of meat, you need 2,500 gallons of water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, raising animals for food is the number-one source of water pollution. Eat more green to save the environment.
3. Walk more, take public transit, or carpool
Instead of using a private vehicle to go to work or school, why not walk or use the public transportation? This cuts down traffic jam and fossil fuel. Do you know that 7,500 to 10,000 steps a day decreases hypertension, improves sleep, and reduces risk for heart attacks and strokes.
4. Vote responsibly
Vote officials who really cares for the environment. Your vote can save the planet.
Your simple action is not as simple as you think it is.